A light from the shadows shall spring

“If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it”

After a number of posts talking about food, whole foods plant based eating I am getting back to an article on training. Specifically, this article will be about increasing strength. Who doesn’t want to be stronger, right? Everyone does, really. Being stronger can help you in everyday life from carrying groceries back to the car and to the house, renovating the house, carrying gear for a photo shoot and so on. With increasing strength comes an increase in muscle mass. And that has its benefits too. It can be an increase in your confidence because of you feeling better about your appearance. If you think about it, adding muscle mass can be considered a body mod. And in saying that there are many body mods from the somewhat subtle hair cut, piercings, to the more extreme plastic surgery. I really don’t have issues with body mods as long as they are safe and its something you want to do, that you are doing it for you. If having straighter teeth as an example makes you happier and more confident than great! There are so many more things in this world that warrant us to get upset over. Save your energy and concern for those things. You might just make the world a better place to live in.

On we go

Want to increase strength, add muscle? Here are a number of things you can do to achieve your goal. And with that let’s get to the first one:

  • Goals: How do I know I’ve gotten to where I’m going without a destination? You don’t. You need to set yourself a goal and it should be a realistic goal. Doubling your 1 rep max weight in 6 weeks probably isn’t a realistic goal. Increasing that one rep max by 50% in that time period might be. What also makes a goal realistic is taking into account your life. Are you busy most of the day, rushing around trying to get things done? You work the weekend to earn some extra cash and then are busy with other activities? You have to factor that in to the goal. This also ties directly into how you train. I’m not a big fan of exercises that isolate muscles. It just takes too much time and unless you have a lot of free time there just isn’t the time for it. Another issue I have with this is it’s not real life. It’s not replicating movements we do throughout the day.

  Set a goal based on a 8 week period to start. 8 weeks is a long enough period that it seems attainable, it’s not too far off and it will pass by quickly. And because of that, when you reach your goal at the end of that 8 week period, you will feel like you have conquered the world and you will see that you have. If your goal time period is too long, it may not seem achievable half way through and may end up discouraging you. Keep it realistic both in duration and what the goal is.

  • Document: Write it down, everyday, and everything. Did I double my squatting weight? How would I know if I didn’t know what weight I was using before I started? Am I eating more? Am I getting the rest I need? Am I sticking to my plan? Writing these things down helps you in knowing this and also helps you keep to your plan. Reading your journal half way through your goal period is a great way to keep motivated by seeing the results of your hard work on paper (or on the screen) or it may be a good way to get your ass moving if you have been neglecting your plan. Adding strength/muscle mass is not rocket science but it is scientific – you need to tear down the muscle fibers to have them grow back stronger. You need to eat well, and rest. You need to train smart. Keeping track of these things helps you do these things.


  • The work: Let’s get to physical part of it. How much work, what type of work.
    • Low reps. Want to increase your strength? Then no more going over 10 reps. Your reps should be between anywhere from 4 to 10 reps. Any higher and you will not increase strength. The good news is along with low reps comes longer rest periods. After completing 8 or 10 reps, take 90 to 120 seconds off. This allows the muscles to recover to get ready for the next set. And now for the sets. To start, keep it at 3 sets. Later, you can work up to 5 or 6 sets. If that’s too much time sitting around, work two body parts at the same time in a sense. Complete a set of bench presses as an example and instead of resting and waiting that 120 seconds, do a set of squats. This works well for someone who does not have a lot of time too. That’s it. Low reps, rest.
    • Full range of motion. Build that strength through the whole range of motion, not just part of it. This way you will be strong regardless of where that strength is required. And it will also look more natural. Have you ever seen someone who’s upper arm is large, but coming down towards the elbow it gets really narrow? That’s because they are cheating when doing bicep curls. The lower part of the bicep is not getting worked out like the upper part, and it shows. And remember, working full range of motion means working the whole muscle which means more muscle mass which means more strength.
    • Legs. Yeah, no one likes working legs. That pukey feeling you get from all the blood in your body getting diverted to the muscles in your legs. And working legs helps in the increase in testosterone and human growth hormones. Don’t worry, it’s all natural so it’s all good and don’t worry if you are female. This will not cause you to all of a sudden get huge and bulky. The added testosterone and human growth hormone will help in developing strength and muscle everywhere else; arms, chest, back and so on. For exercises, stick to squats and lunges. That’s it.
    •  Back. Back and a bit of shoulders really. Keeping with full range motions and not isolating, stick to pull ups, and cable rows. If you can’t do cable rows because you don’t have the equipment, you can to the equivalent with resistance bands. I love resistance bands because they keep the resistance on the muscles during the full range of motion, not only part of the range. If you want, you can also add shoulder presses. DON’T DO THESE BEHIND THE NECK!. If you can, use dumbbells.
    • Chest – The antithesis of the back. Bench press, chest flies. That’s it. Simple, straight forward.
    • Lastly, arms. Want big arms? Absolutely! Then build the triceps. They make up about two thirds of your arm. Big triceps makes for big arms. Tricep dips, tricep kick backs, tricep extensions. Or, if you want to target the triceps, lower chest, shoulders, and forearms you can do dips using a dip stand.


  • Rest: You need rest. More than you are probably getting. You are tearing up your muscles and the body needs rest, sleep really, to heal the damage. This is what helps you to get stronger and to grow. Get enough sleep every day. And do not train the same muscles without a 48 hour break. Don’t know how to do this? Great time to get a personal trainer to show you how you can train the body parts you want to and do this in a manner where that body part has 48 hours off, but still train that body part enough in that week to add strength. Also remember you need to train that body part at least twice a week. Yes, you need to do legs twice a week. Do you hate me now?


  • Food: Eat more. Eat more. Eat more. Did I make my point?  I hope so. Working out to increase strength uses a lot of calories and if you aren’t getting enough calories you will then be running a deficit and will not get stronger. Complex carbs and protein from plant based sources! Stay as low as you can when it comes to fat. I bolded the protein part to make it important. Increase in consumption of animal protein has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, strokes, cancer and many other diseases. That stuff is really nasty for your health. Plant based protein has not been shown to do this. Keep track of what you consume daily. Here’s a tip. Do this for a week. Document it (use Cronometer, a great tool to keep track of what you eat each day and what you getting from the foods you eat). Now you have a base line. You now know what you are consuming in a week broken down each day, showing you the number of calories, amount of protein, carbs, fat and other information. Now start your program, and increase the calorie count by 10 – 20%. Do that for 4 weeks. Are you getting stronger? Has your body composition changed? If not, and you are sure of this, increase another 10%. Find that point where you are getting stronger, you are adding muscle mass. If you feel that you have increased too much, take it back a bit if you aren’t happy about that. It’s up to you. You are the artist sculpting your body.

And listen to your body. Tired all the time? Could be over training, not enough rest. Not getting stronger, also a sign of over training? Basically over training is you are not giving enough time/nutrients/rest for your body to repair the damage you have done to it to get stronger.

But don’t fret. The hardest part is at the beginning. Finding the sweet spot. But once you do, once you find out how much you need to eat to increase strength, how much rest you need, what works for you, you can carry this with you for a long time. You will learn what works for you and what doesn’t And you will have learned all this all the while getting stronger. Awesome, isn’t it.

One last thing. Is this a priority for you? Is it something you really want? If it isn’t it’s probably going to be hard to do these things and it won’t happen. If it is than jump right in and look forward to being a stronger you. Because you will be stronger. I know you will. I’ve seen it happen myself.

Yours in health,






This old town’s changed so much

‘Too many protest singers, not enough protest songs’

I think as a society we have lost our ability to think logically. I don’t know if I’m right, and if I am, I don’t know why we have. Is it because we live in a world that we are heavily marketed to? Can it be because we want to be part of what everyone else is doing? Or is it because we really need to feel connected and we let marketers tell us how that needs to happen.

I’m not sure. I only have opinions in that sense as I’m not a social studies expert. But I do feel we have lost our ability, no, not ability but we have lost the ‘want’ to think critically. We live in an age where information is right in front of us. You want to find something out all you have to do is go to Google and search for it. And your search will return articles from news sources, from reliable sources and from unreliable sources. But it really is incredible the amount of data out there to review.

I’m sure you are thinking what am I getting at.

The focus on this post is how we have lost our critical thinking process when it comes to what we eat. Lets get to it

The latest…

Ketogenic diet. Low carb diet. South beach diet.

You’ve probably heard of these. The focus being losing weight by eating low carbs. Tough to do, not eat carbs and lose the weight and keep it off. Healthy? No. Sustainable? No. Does it work? Yes, short term. But not long term and you are damaging your body following a low carb diet. Remember, low carb mean high protein and high fat, specifically animal fat. Don’t know if you knew this but the chemicals animals bring into their bodies are metabolized and stored in the fat of the animal, the fat you are eating.

So where does logical thinking come into play? Let’s look at societies that do or have followed a high carb diet. I specifically said have followed since the proliferation of North American fast food restaurants have changed the diets of these places, such as Okinawa. If you look into a traditional Okinawa diet that was responsible for the people of Okinawa having the most centenarians you have to look back before 1980 or even better before 1950. 1980 was when you had places like McDonalds move in, Burger King and so on. Before the ’50’s Okinawan’s diet did not include pork. So what do/did Okinawan’s eat? Rice, sweet potato, seaweed, various plants and some fish. Their diet was in excess of 60% carbs. So we know they live long, but are they healthy? I’m all about being healthy. I don’t care about ‘beach body’ or ‘6 week booty class’. More marketing hitting us over the head to make a dollar. Be healthy and be happy that you are healthy. Have goals for sure but don’t sacrifice your health for goals.

But I digress. Are Okinawan’s healthy? I think so. Google some pictures and there is what you might find:

Older Okinawans






Pretty healthy, right? But don’t take Google’s word for it. I’ve been to Okinawa 3 times in the last 7 years. The first time due to unfortunate circumstances I attended a funeral. Over 300 people where there, most over 80 years old and not one with a cane, a walker, or overweight/obese. I’ve been all over the island, north,south, have trained in martial arts with people in the 70’s and 80’s – for hours a day! I look around in our society and I don’t see people doing these things, I mainly see people settling down into old age, no longer being mobile. Yes, it’s a societal thing, us as north americans believe this is what we should do, whereas Okinawan’s don’t look at it that way. But, outside of that, back to my point, they are not obese. How can that be? We are told not to eat carbs, load up on protein (hold on for it) and fat otherwise we will get fat, and get diabetes.

Logic: Okinawa – longest living people. Healthy, not obese but living a high carb diet.

Rest of Japan/Asia

Let’s look at the rest of Japan, more specifically rural Japan. Rice, soy, seaweed, vegetables, some fish. I say rural Japan because urban Japan has been infiltrated with western fast food joints. And this brings me to soy.

People will stay away from soy because they believe they will end up ingesting too much estrogen, a female hormone. Really. Men believe they will get enlarge breasts because of this and women think they will increase their risk of breast cancer. Because industry is afraid of losing business they demonize soy by letting people believe soy can cause breast cancer yet are perfectly fine with people consuming dairy, full of female hormones from cows and animal protein which raises IGF-1, shown to cause cancer! But let’s stay away from soy! Eat soy! It’s good for you!

Logic: I’ve been to Japan, a number of times for weeks each time. So far, I have not seen any men wearing bras because of enlarged breasts due to consuming soy and increasing their estrogen. And when we think of Asians, generally we don’t think of obese people. There’s a reason why, because they aren’t obese!

Protein, Protein

My homage to Trailer park boys. Sorry, when I hear of people asking about protein, my mind goes to Jim Lahey ‘Propane propane, it’s time to start the game’. It’s all I hear. I hear it when people find out your are vegan: ‘But Darryl, where do you get your protein?’ looking at me like I’m about to collapse from lack of that protein protein. Did you know gorillas get the vast majority of their food from plants and fruits? Gorillas are super strong, really. Don’t ever mess with one. Yet they eat pretty much a vegan diet. And yet they have enough protein to build muscle and strength. Hmm, strange isn’t it. We think we need protein from animals, those animals that eat plants themselves. Did you know breast milk, the best food for a baby that helps it grow into a toddler has about only 4% protein? So the best thing for a new born baby to thrive/grow has about only 4% protein? Crazy isn’t it.

I think it comes down to money, again. How could companies sell so much protein powder, supplements if we felt we didn’t need a lot of protein.

**NOTICE** Read The China Study to see how protein from animals is not the same a protein from plants. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE!

You will get enough protein and eliminate the risk of IGF-1 protein if you get your protein from plants.

How many people do you know who were diagnosed with protein deficiencies? Now how many people do you know who have coronary disease, diabetes, obesity. Right?

If you think you are suffering from not enough protein look at symptoms of a low protein diet. Also, are you eating properly?

And, this leads me to

My last point, you need to do it right. You need to eat properly. Yes, we do. I hear this a lot. You are vegan, you need to make sure you eat correctly. That’s right, not too many non vegans I know that aren’t going to the doctor, that aren’t suffering heart attacks, aren’t suffering from cancer, aren’t suffering from diabetes. But you are a vegan, I hope you are eating correctly.

I’m not being callas or rude, just making a point. No matter your dietary styles, you have to eat right, and in my mind, to reduce risk of disease, to reverse disease, to be compassionate towards all animals, and to stop climate change, you need to eat a whole foods plant based diet. Really.


Take the blinders off. Ask questions. Do research but real research because there is crap out there. Here’s some things to think about:

Something I thought of recently. Currently, you cannot promote vegetables the same way as meat, or dairy. ‘Our meat is organic, grass fed and the cows graze freely’. Say that about vegetables, ‘ Our carrots grow in the finest dirt, subjected to only the best sunshine’. Just not the same, is it. I cannot sell carrots at twice or three times the price because of better sunshine, unlike grass fed beef.

Think about it.

Yours in health,






if only

I wish I knew then what I know now.


I think we all feel this at times. If I could go back 10, 20 years I’d probably do things differently. Depending, this could be looked at as a good thing. It could mean that you are still learning which we should all be doing. If we stop learning we become stagnant. So what I mean by ‘I wish I knew then what I know now’ I wish years ago I was aware of the impact to our body from consuming animal protein. I wish I knew about Tabata and the benefits. I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time on long runs.

But I haven’t been able to invent a time machine so there really isn’t anything I can do about that, not yet.

So in this post I’m going to provide some tools for you to use to help you in your quest for better health. If you have been reading my blog you know for me it’s really about health. Not about weight loss, beach bodies, getting jacked or swelled. Most time when those are your goals you are inflicting damage to your body that might not manifest itself until years later. And then you’ll be contacting me for that time machine to go back and reverse the damage done.

So let’s go.

What are you getting?

Cronometer: Do you know what you are getting from the foods you eat? I hope so. How much fat, how much protein, how much cholesterol. Cronometer is a great tool to find these things out. But, not only can you find these things out, it also gives you lots more: amino acid profile, vitamin content, minerals, lipids, carbohydrate breakdown. Want to know how much fiber you are getting from a serving of avocado, Cronometer will tell you. I highly recommend this tool to better understand the foods you are eating. A quick search of avocado shows me a serving gives me 0% saturated fat and 9% of my Omega 3 fats. Knowing what we get from what we eat helps us to be healthier by being able to control bad things and good things we eat.



Measure it

Heart rate monitor: This is a tool and it’s a tool you have to purchase. Working out to benefit your health cannot be working out at the same rate every time. There are benefits to working out at 70% of our heart rate max. and there are benefits of working out at 100% of our heart rate max. How do you know you are at these percentages? You don’t if you are not monitoring your heart rate. Get yourself a heart rate monitor, a good one. I prefer one that wraps around your chest as to one that you wear on your wrist. In my opinion, the one that wraps around your chest is more accurate. Kind of important, accuracy when it comes to heart rate. There are many choices out there so I’ll leave it to you to decide which one you want.

Record it

Journal: This one is easy. Paper and pen, or pencil. It’s all you need. Are you getting stronger? Are you getting faster? Is your resting heart rate lower, a good sign of improved fitness? How would you know if you don’t keep a journal/log and can’t look back a month, or 3 or 6 months? It’s really rewarding to look back in your journal to the time you were beginning a new program, a new goal and see, week to week the improvements you have made! The feeling you get when you see that you are now squatting 40 more pounds. It can be that boost in your motivation that you need.

Last but…

The China Study: I’m all about the health in health and fitness. Do yourself a favour and read the research as to why consuming animal protein is bad for your health. Did you know following a whole foods plant based diet has reversed disease? Diabetics who are no longer diabetic after switching to a whole foods plant based diet. Heart disease reversed after switching to a whole foods plant based diet. Cut through all the crap out there, all the misinformation and read for yourself why it is in interest to follow a whole foods plant based diet. To me, this is the biggest thing you can do to better your health. I don’t talk a lot about being vegan, but if people ask me than for sure, I will discuss it. In talking to one individual the benefits of a whole foods plant based diet they said that ‘well, we all die’. And I said yes, we do. But who wants to die from cancer, heart disease, or have a stroke? NO ONE. Following a whole foods plant based diet does not make you immune from disease, but studies have shown it reduces the risk. And there is so much variety, so much to eat. Read the book and the scientific studies.

Try these things out. Maybe months from now you will be glad you did.

Yours in health,